Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren’t going to the same place?
Some years ago, while living in Los Angeles, we were walking along Santa Monica Beach when we couldn’t believe our eyes.
A man wearing a shiny suit of armor and riding a white horse was galloping along the shore until he spied his girlfriend who was sunbathing with a few girlfriends.
The rider hopped off his horse, knelt on one knee, and asked for her hand in marriage. People on the crowded beach erupted with applause when she said yes.
There’s something about a marriage proposal that grabs everybody’s attention.
In our university marriage class we often conclude our lectures with a guest interview of a seasoned married couple. Invariably, a student will ask: “How did you propose?”
We’ve heard countless proposal stories through the years, but they still intrigue us.
The most recent was captured on video. It’s two of our students at Seattle Pacific University and it involves a cleaver treasure hunt. You may want to take a look. It’s included at the end of this post.
One advantage of marriage is that, when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you,
it keeps you together until you fall in again.
About 2.3 million couples get married each year in the U.S. That breaks down to nearly 6,200 weddings a day. And do you know the average wedding budget? It’s $20,000 (plus rings and a honeymoon!). To say a LOT of time and money goes into a wedding is a major understatement.
Since June is the most popular a month for weddings (and our mailbox is bursting with invitations) we have a proposal we hope you’ll share with any engaged couple you might know: That they prepare for their marriage more than they’re preparing for their wedding.
Reflect and Respond
If you could give one word of unique advice to an engaged couple – in a single sentence – what would it be?
Go ahead, tell us in the comments.
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Our Pastor (Ps André Olivier) once told us, “Marriage is made up of two expert forgivers”
We love it, too, Carmen. Thanks!
Ny marriage tip is you grow the most in your marriage through tough times. It can gow a marriage or break one but if you pull together you can create a marriage that survives anything!
Love this, Annette. The tough times make your marriage tough, for sure – if you both hang in there.
You are not on your own anymore, you cannot be selfish,
Tough pill to swallow, Leo. But so true!
My one word of unique advice is: More is caught than is taught. Show your spouse you love them more than telling them.
BTW, my wife and I used SYMBIS during our pre-marriage counseling. It’s now the book we give to every couple we know when we hear they get engaged. We credit it as the resource that has made the first five years of marriage amazing. While we have had frustration with each other from time to time, SYMBIS equipped us to communicate before any issue has erupted into a fight. Thank you for this resource, excited to hear that you are updating it.
Eric: That’s SO awesome to hear. We love knowing that you are spreading the help by giving SYMBIS to engaged couples. That’s wonderful. Thank you, thank you!
Major on the majors and minor on the minors b/c so many disagreements are petty and concern only preferences.
True, that, Louis. Thanks.
We tell young couples they must have total commitment, regardless of the day to day conflicts that occur. It’s EASY to love during the fun times and the special times, but it’s the complete commitment that gets you through the difficult times, when neither of you really feel the “love”. We celebrated our 40th last year, and without that total commitment, that might not have happened, but I can say that I love Mona more now than on our wedding day!
Barry: Couldn’t agree more. Commitment – the less glamorous aspect of love – is the superglue that holds it all together when nothing else does. Thanks so much for sharing and congrats on 40 years!
Forgive freely and often,
listen well and start over.
Look for the good in the other person and
Nicely siad, Susanna. I think it was Mark Twain who said he could live for a month on a good compliment. We know how he feels.
When Bill and I married 35 years ago, my Dad gave us a good word of advice.
He said, “start out the way you think you can finish.” As we began our first years
together, we kept remembering that phrase: setting up finances, determining our
Between us, we had also made a private pact to try to out-serve each other.
What began as a fun relational competition has now cemented into one of
our values as a family.
Woah! Love this, Debbye. Very creative. We’ll be using this sage wisdom.
Be ALL IN- ALL IN with the commitment to the marriage relationship and ALL IN with your individual relationships with God,as if failure is not even an option.
My marriage is always better when I deal with my selfishness first.
Rev. Patrick: Isn’t that the truth! It’s why every marriage hungers for a relationship with God.
Deal with your selfish desires & expectations before you put those on your spouse. Only God can correct & meet our desires & expectations. He’s able to do exceedingly abundantly…if I let him.
At a wedding this weekend the Pastor said, marriage requires “intentional effort”, loved this.
Nothing happens without intention, for sure.
You both need the art of communication, it is vital for a healthy , strong marriage 🙂
Communication is the lifeline of marriage. No doubt about that, Tara. If communication is good, most other things in the relationship are good. Thanks.
Marriage is like a roller coaster , sometimes you must hang on till it gets
Good again! When God is at the helm, He makes everything good in His time:)
For sure, Greg. Hanging on for the the adventurous ride is key. Great analogy.
It’s the same advice for parenting as well: Ask God every day for wisdom, because He is the one who gives freely and won’t make you feel dumb for asking (James 1:5)
Amen and amen, Jeanette.
They must have got a lot of help from their friends to achieve this. Having reliable and faithful friends is a good indicator to the kind of friendship you make, which also has a correlation to the way you will build your marriage. Congrats to them!
Yes! Healthy social support for a couple – especially on the front end – is so valuable. Thanks, Olu.
I really love this devotion. It’s right on time for me and my wife — just what the doctor ordered. Thanks !!!
Love hearing that, Joseph.
One unique word of advice is this… Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things.
You made us laugh out loud, Jerrod. Thanks.
Our advice for those contemplating bi-cultural marriage: (I’m American, my husband is Taiwanese)
Having 2 cultures means twice as much confusion in marriage, but also twice the opportunity for laughter.
And for every marriage (especially with kids), we say:
Life is a series of seasons: embrace the joys and face challenges boldly for both will soon pass and be replaced with new ones.
Ah, yes, Elizabeth. Research reveals a lot of special challenges when bringing two distinct cultures together in marriage. Good for you! And great parenting wisdom, too. Thanks for this.
Our word of advice in one sentence: “Live out the kind of marriage that you want your kids to have.”
We wish someone would have offered this to us when we first married!
Ginny: This is tweet-able, for sure. We’ve not heard that sentence before. It’s a great one. Thank you.
Only take marriage advice from someone who has been married for 30+ years!
Hmm. We see your point, Mike. There’s a lot to be said about years of experience. Although we’ve been amazed at the wisdom we’ve picked up from neophytes here and there as well (often startling us). Thanks for sharing.
Funny you should ask, I went to a cousins wedding over the last weekend and while everyone was waiting for the reception to be finished setting up I met a friend of the grooms and his fiancee. In our conversation I told him we had just had our 15th anniversary on the 8th. He then asked what advice would I give them for their future marriage. I encouraged communication and compromise, and stated that it is something that has to be worked at, but don’t be afraid to do the work. I expressed that they should always reflect on the feeling that they have now when the feelings are fresh and never forget how good that feels. I also let them know that if they do find themselves having trouble, there is help out there, and of course I was thinking of the two of you! Jennifer and I (with three other couples/friends) saw you in Wichita, KS and few months ago. Thank you for the inspiration!
Hey, Brian. That’s great advice. We loved being in Wichita recently. That was a blast! And congrats on year 15!
One of the most powerful gifts you can give your marriage is dedicating time every day (even just 5 minutes!) praying specific Scripture over your marriage, yourself, and your spouse; God WILL answer!
Great testimony, Katrina. Thanks so much.
I would tell engaged couples that “Everything is not about you.” By that I mean, if your spouse comes home grouchy or teary eyed or snaps at you or whatever, that doesn’t mean that they are unhappy in their marriage or that divorce is imminent – they are just human. Sometimes there is nothing the spouse can do to fix anything (you have no control over how other drivers were driving as your spouse made their way home!) but everyone can use a kind word, a hug or an act of service to take the edge off the day. Home should be a safe place for each of you – the one place where you don’t have to do battle daily.
I love this! We tend to thing everything orbits around us. But it doesn’t…
Great advice, Ruth. You can never go wrong in marriage by setting your ego in abeyance. Really love your input. Thanks.
Realize that your marriage covenant flows from the eternal. It is more than two people loving each other…The relationship among God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is reflected in the relationship between Jesus and His bride, the church. Your marriage is a reflection of the Jesus/church relationship….And it glorifies God.
Find healing for yourself from the only one that heals. You cannot do the serving or the loving outside of being healed.
Everybody’s got wounds and we bring them into marriage as part of our baggage. And, of course, we pick up more woulds in our relationship – no matter how loving. Thanks, for this crucially important reminder, Matthew.
Remembering that God is using me to develope Christ-likeness in my husband
as I obey Him by growing the fruit of the Spirit in our marriage: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Wow! So good, Cyndi. Thanks.
Love God first and with everything you have.
Through this you will ask God to meet your needs and not your spouse.
Through this you will see your spouse as God’s precious child and love them differently.
Through this you will understand all have sinned and not judge your spouse more harshly than yourself.
Through this you will know a love that never lets go, a peace that surpasses understanding, and a hope that endures all things.
Easier said than done, right, Kelly?
It is more important than I could have dreamed.
2 emergency C-sections
1 trying adoption
2 military deployments
Not thinking your child would live
Uncovering a worst nightmare of marital infidelity
Coming back from the brink
Countless, countless prayers
The only thing that held it together is that God is love and God is good.
And we can do ALL things through Christ
Just when I thought we couldn’t make it, He taught me how amazing His love is, how vast His power, how unbelievable His peace, and how worth the effort is the fight to daily put Him first.
I had to be willing to lose my ideal of what my marriage should be and learn to put God first before He restored it and gave me more than I could ask for or imagine.
Marriage is more about holiness than happiness. Look to God to fulfill your needs and your spouse to add to your joy!
Thanks, Jenn. In our experience, abiding happiness and joy flows from a heart-felt pursuit of holiness. Guessing you agree with that, too. Thanks so much.
communication and trust will get you through nearly any difficulty
Thanks for sharing this, Markin.
“Take responsibility for the effect that you both have on one another.”
Couldn’t agree more, Paul. Owning your piece of the pie is crucial – even thought it’s a “pastry that’s never tasty!” 🙂
Don’t hold your spouse (or yourself) to the impossible responsibility to keep the other happy.
Yes! So true, Gerry. Thanks.
In your blog you mentioned the average $20,000 price tag … recently saw that Sugar Creek Baptist Church, Sugar Land (Houston) Texas is offering a “free wedding day” to all who would apply. From 9 to 5 that day, they are providing the church building, clergy, and reception space in order to encourage couples to make the godly commitment. I’m not sure what they are using for pre-marital (maybe you could offer them SYMBIS to them for free!), but what as awesome idea! As clergy, I’m considering it with the church I serve, too.
Wow! We’ve never hear do this Gary. How cool! We’ll try to followup with them and see what we might do to add value to this free wedding day.
My Mom gave me this advice when i was still a teenager. She was married to my Dad for 52 years before he passed away!
Love is a choice not a feeling.
There will be days you don’t like each other, but everyday get up and make the choice to LOVE!
Love is a choice … SO good, Shel. Simple but profound. Thanks you. You have a wise mom.
God and wisdom first…$20,000 party second!:o)
I would tell a couple to take time to do some serious ‘research’ into what those words in the ceremony mean. What does it mean to ‘honour’? What does it mean to ‘cherish’? What does God’s word say and mean when it talks of loving a person? What is the limit of ‘for better or worse’? If you say you will love them until you die, what will you do when you don’t? When you say those ‘vows’ before God, really understand what they mean and…talk to each other about it before spending $20,000.00!
For sure, Sherry. Thanks for your input. BTW, cherish is such a good word that so few us us really know how to practice, isn’t it?
We are coming up on 42 years of marriage (June 16th). We got married really young (I was 18 & he was 20), so we have basically grown up together. We have never been well off, have been hardworking blue collar folks, raised two great kids and have 6 grand-kids with another one on the way in October.
I don’t know how people stay together without the Lord in their lives. There have been many big fights, that could have resulted in someone walking away, but the covenant we committed to in 1972 still holds us together. The hurt is overpowered by the love and we continue to move forward. God shows us so much grace, how can we hold on to our hurts and not show grace to eachother?
I enjoy these blogs and share them with our church… thank you!
Becky: First of all, congratulation on 42 years! Wahoo! That’s so fantastic. We really love your heart-felt testimony and advice here. Thanks for taking the time to offer it. It’s right on the money.
My wife and I will be married for 32 years in August. As with any couple we have had our moments but the one thing we have never forgotten is that marriage is work. If you don’t maintain a house or car they breakdown, so does a marriage. My wife and I have followed one piece of advice our whole lives together. We have worked all our married lives at maintaining our friendship, companionship and relationship. Quitting is easy and marriages are divorcing for some pretty flimsy reasons. So never look back, never look away and never, ever quit.
I would share with them that while they are engaged, they should have premarital counseling. This is a great way to gain a greater understanding, not just about your future spouse, but you learn a lot about yourself. We teach 3 basic competencies we call the 3 C’s, that a couple needs to work on before and during their marriage: commitment, the foundation, communication, the doorway and lifeblood of the marriage, and consideration, the gauge of your love language and needs in your marriage. We also believe in Ephesians 5:21 that husbands and wives should submit to each other in the fear of God. Couples need to get a Master’s Degree in their spouse, and keep a solid foundation in Christ. Marriage is a good thing, God is the architect. As each of you grow closer to God, you will grow closer to each other. These are just a few skills we know couples need, and we teach when doing premarital. We also encourage them to find a mentor couple, come to a marriage enrichment group and attend workshops whenever possible, to strengthen your marriage. We still do all of that and have been married 37 years. Finally in addition to the reading the Bible together and praying for one another read great books like Trading Places, by the Parrots and 5 Love Languages by Dr. Chapman.
Wow! Gail, you really have the bases covered. Where do you do your marriage prep work (what church and city) and how many couples do you see in an typical year?
I wish there were “like” buttons to press!! So much great advice!!
I never used to think 10 years was a big deal but nowadays it is! We always try to think of the other person first, and put in 100%. Marriages are not 50/50… they need to be 100/100. My daughter made a statement about divorce the other day… “People shouldn’t feel they have to stay with who they married cause people grow apart”… I was shocked! I told her no, the only reason people get divorced is because someone was/turned selfish… They decided they were the most important and what they wanted was most important… If both people put the other ahead of themselves, things should be ok… Of course there are seasons and tough times, thats understandable, but you can get thru them if you decide ahead of time that leaving isn’t an option…
Sheri: So true. People aren’t fractions – we give our whole self to the relationship. For sure. Thanks for your input. Really appreciate your wise words.
Always have a servant’s heart – even if you don’t get ‘served’ in return keep looking for ways to serve your spouse. If you both do that, your marriage will be one for the record books! Long, loving and filled with happiness!
Spend more time preparing for the marriage than the actual wedding. Marriage is for a lifetime. The wedding is less than 24 hours.
Become friends before you become lovers and then your spouse becomes your BFF, and the journey is much more enjoyable. To become really good friends requires communication, so if you communicate well before marriage, hopefully it will continue. There are many other factors that are excellent and necessary; this is simple, but true. (after almost 40 years of marriage!)
Keep God in the center of your marriage!
Invest in your relationship by doing some premarital counseling — you will find out more about each other and yourself as a couple than you can imagine, and it will prepare you for a strong marriage. My husband and I went through your books “Saving Your Second Marriage Before It Starts” and it was the best thing we ever could have done for our relationship. We’ve bought the complete curriculum for our pastor and numerous copies of the books and workbooks as gifts for engaged couples, that’s how passionate we are about this curriculum. (Unsolicited plug!) We highly recommend these materials!! <3
Here is mine: make all your decisions together, never do anything without prior enthusiastic agreement.
Don’t bail on your marriage just because it gets “hard”. I am not sure it is advice as much as just something to keep in mind. Marriage is work, it doesn’t just happen. People who are married AND happy for 20, 30, 40, 50+ years don’t just go through the motions. It take time, effort, communication, and work. My wife and I have been married for 22+ years because we work at marriage and understanding each other and continually improving our relationship with each other. We learned a great deal of that from the two of you several years ago!
My great grandparents had a spectacular relationship, when I told them I was getting married my great grandfather told me ” Do everything you can to make her happy.” Then he looked at my fiancée and said”do everything you can to make him happy”….then he smiled a big smile and said ” now everybody’s happy!”
Wait at least a year before getting married to get to know each other thoroughly in a non sexual relationship.
It is so important to trust each other. But trust should never be given blindly. It must continually be earned throughout the relationship.
My beautiful wife of almost nine years once told me. Honey, I love you and always will BUT “marriage won’t always be about candies and butterflies, it’s about compromise.” This statement has always stuck with me and helped us work through our differences. My wife, Dawn, is five years younger than me but she is wise beyond her years.
My one sentence piece of advice: Be the person to whom you would want to be devoted.
For Husbands…Always think that a lady is leaving her parents,brothers and sisters because of you where she was brought-up so do everything to make her Happy.
For Wives…….Always think about the man who is going to devote himself to you among hundred of thousand
of Ladies. Do everything to make him Happy.
For Couple…… Remember that the most worthy relation is your parents who brought you in this World and on the other hand you can not measure the worth of your own relationship who are going to gift a new generation to this world…….